I can’t believe it’s Monday again… But, here we are. Today’s topic is a vitally important one in my kitchen. Since I prepare meals for people whose diets are sodium restricted, the subject of salt is of constant concern to me. You may remember that Co-Editor Daniel lives with Congestive Heart Failure. This means taking particular care with regard to fluid intake and also with the inclusion of sodium in everything he consumes. For people without a heart condition, the daily recommended limit for sodium intake is 2,000 milligrams. However, for anyone managing heart failure or other cardio-vascular conditions, the daily maximum drops to 1,500 milligrams. This may sound like a lot, but trust me, it is not. If you take a stroll down the super market isles, you’ll quickly discover, as we did, that massive amounts of sodium are dumped into almost everything you see. Yes, it is true that our bodies require some sodium for proper functioning. However, the levels present in many food items is down-right offensive. The scary part is that it is often found in surprising places. Next time you go grocery shopping, check the labels on things like pasta sauce, salad dressing and condensed soup to name a few. The numbers are staggering. So, you see, in this age of pre-packaged convenience foods, it is far easier to take in too much sodium than to find yourself with a deficiency.

If you are concerned that you get too much sodium in your diet after hearing it can be bad for your heart, think carefully before trying to cut it out completely. Instead of getting too much salt, you could just be getting the wrong kind of salt. This everyday staple is not as simple as it seems. The importance of salt has a long history, and the origins of the word itself indicate how basic it really is. The word ‘salary’ refers to the fact that Roman soldiers were often paid their daily wages in salt, and although now much more common, it’s still a valuable commodity today. Our bodies need a small amount of salt on a cellular level. It regulates the transport of nutrients and fluids in our cells, supporting virtually every function in the human body. We could not live without salt, making it a vital part of every diet. It’s in everyone’s kitchen and on every dining table, but salt has actually become quite gourmet lately due to the use of exotic salts in professional cooking. So now that there’s more than one simple option, how do you know which type of salt is right for your health?

Sea Salt

Now just as common as regular old table salt, sea salt is both healthy and delicious. Because it is unrefined, it has more trace minerals that your body needs for its numerous daily functions. It can be found in both crystalline and flake forms. The larger crystal sizes pack a larger burst of flavor and add a little crunch to things like artisan breads or caramels. Smaller grains dissolve more quickly and disappear into the dish. Many food critics agree that sea salt has more flavor than regular table salt. Feel free to use it as a replacement to add taste and texture to your cooking. Also, because it has more flavor and larger grains, you can use less of it without feeling deprived of the familiar taste and still stay below the daily limit for sodium intake.

Iodized salt

While the gourmet trend often overlooks this common variety, there are definitely health benefits that iodized salt can offer. Because it has added iodine, it can help prevent deficiency of this rare but vital nutrient. There is a long list of health issues caused by iodine deficiencies, ranging from hyperthyroidism and goiter to stillbirths and miscarriages. Not enough iodine can also contribute to certain types of brain disorders and congenital abnormalities. Iodized forms of both regular salt and sea salt are widely available. Some people notice a slightly different flavor in iodized salt, however. It is definitely an acquired taste.

Himalayan Crystal Salt

This is perhaps the more elevated of the salt choices. In fact, Himalayan salt has been called a complete food for centuries. This is a true treasure from deep inside the earth, revered for its chemical composition as it contains all of the natural minerals and trace elements that the human body needs. When your system has access to all of the proper nutrients that it needs to do its job, you’ll have more energy, think more clearly, and better eliminate toxins.

There is a huge range of salt choices out there these days, with a variety of different flavors, textures and prices. Experiment with various salts in your favorite recipes to enhance everyday meals and add flair to boring old standbys. Once you start looking, you will find salt available from a variety of sources around the globe. Varieties like fleur de sel, Celtic sea salt, and Hawaiian salt are just a few choices that are readily available. If you need to watch your sodium intake, you should focus on eliminating pre-packaged or heavily processed foods. This is the major reason for the overconsumption of salt in most people’s diets. Salt is all about adding taste, and it actually enhances the flavors of anything it is added to. Consider offering different types of salt at the table rather than adding it during cooking. Whether you are after the health benefits, or looking to add a little zest to your cooking, salt should no longer be seen as an enemy to your diet. Just be aware of hidden sodium and find the balance between health and flavor that suits you best.

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